Why Sharron Angle's rape/abortion position makes pro-choice me respect her more
I'm not going to make any friends with this essay; I already know that. Emotions run high on the abortion issue and I'm going to say things that people on both sides of the debate are likely to find intolerable. But someone's gotta say it, so it might as well be me.
First off: I'm pro-choice. Sorry, that ain't gonna change. I've heard every pro-life argument repeated countless times and none of them have changed my views yet, and are unlikely to do so in the future. But I definitely understand the pro-life position, and I acknowledge that many people are pro-life on solidly grounded moral principles. I have no beef with that, and I have no interest in trying to convince anyone to change their minds.
Recently, Sharron Angle, Nevada's Republican nominee for Senate, was savagely criticized by the Harry Reid campaign (her Democratic opponent) and by liberals in general when she reaffirmed her belief that even rape victims who become pregnant should carry their babies to term and not have abortions:
Interviewer: What do you say then to a young girl, I am going to place it as he said it, when a young girl is raped by her father, let's say, and she is pregnant. How do you explain this to her in terms of wanting her to go through the process of having the baby?
Angle: I think that two wrongs don't make a right. And I have been in the situation of counseling young girls, not 13 but 15, who have had very at risk, difficult pregnancies. And my counsel was to look for some alternatives, which they did. And they found that they had made what was really a lemon situation into lemonade. Well one girl in particular moved in with the adoptive parents of her child, and they both were adopted. Both of them grew up, one graduated from high school, the other had parents that loved her and she also graduated from high school. And I'll tell you the little girl who was born from that very poor situation came to me when she was 13 and said 'I know what you did thank you for saving my life.' So it is meaningful to me to err on the side of life.
Now, the Reid campaign and left-leaning bloggers went ballistic upon hearing this, either intentionally misconstruing Angle's statement to imply that she is in favor of rape, or at a minimum denouncing her position as cruel and fundamentally immoral.
But, despite being pro-choice myself, I had the opposite reaction. Angle's unwavering philosophical consistency was a rare treat to behold in this nation of fickle politicians. Because Angle's hardline stance is to my mind the only valid pro-life stance.
We're All Lying
I think both sides of the abortion debate are lying and have been lying since the argument first arose. Anyone who wants to forbid abortion "except in cases of rape or incest" is, frankly, full of crap. And here's why:
If you truly are "pro-life" in that you believe abortion is murder because the unborn child is a full-fledged human being, then you wouldn't so casually allow the child to be murdered simply based on its parent's misbehavior.
Most people who are anti-abortion adopt the label "pro-life" based on the shared notion that the zygote/embryo/fetus, no matter what its stage of development, is an undiminished human being with full human rights. And that's a principled position which I can respect -- if you stick to it consistently. But if you start making expedient exceptions, then your dishonesty has been revealed. Because if you really and truly believed that an embryo was a full human being, then you wouldn't allow it to be murdered simply because its father was a bad man.
Say, for example, a man goes out and robs a store. Do the police then go to that man's house and throw his son in jail as punishment for the father's crime? Of course not. Not only would that be unconstitutional, it would be illogical as well. Well, what if a man goes out and rapes someone, and gets sentenced to life in prison. Do we as a society then go to the man's family and also throw his children in jail for life? Again, that would seem insane.
Why then, if we are to accept the supposition that unborn children have full human rights, would we sentence a (pre-born) baby to death (abortion) simply because the baby's father is a rapist? How does that make any more sense than the scenarios I described above?
Allowing a rape-and-incest exception to any abortion ban essentially means we are willing to punish the children for the sins of the father. And that's not the way our society works.
That is, unless there was a hidden rationale behind the abortion ban which had nothing to do with the belief that embryos are children. If the "pro-life" stance was sometimes nothing but a ruse, a false front to disguise the real reason for being anti-abortion, that would explain why some "pro-lifers" are willing to murder unborn babies under certain circumstances.
And I have always believed that the hidden rationale is obvious: It's all about sex.
Many politicians and regular folks feel (accurately, in my opinion) that allowing unfettered legal access to abortion will encourage promiscuity among young people. That if we intentionally make sex consequence-free, then more casual sex will happen, and more sex will lead to more babies out of wedlock, which will lead to any number of well-documented social ills. And furthermore, many feel, pre-marital and extra-marital sex is fundamentally immoral, in that it is explicitly forbidden by the three main monotheistic religions and by many other faiths as well.
But in our postmodern world, it's no longer acceptable to publicly say you're anti-sex for either social or moral reasons. No one is willing to stand up and declare, "Sex outside of marriage is bad for the soul and bad for society, so we should discourage sexual activity by ensuring that it has dire consequences; thus, we should ban abortion, as a way to scare kids away from casual sex." But I have a strong feeling that that is what many people really and truly would say if they were telling the truth. Instead, some people in the anti-abortion camp wrap themselves in the "pro-life" mantle as a way of disguising their real opinions with the façade of a more acceptable contemporary moral philosophy (i.e. that abortion should be banned because even embryos are full human beings).
Now, if you're pro-life and you're reading this and your blood is starting to boil, simmer down for just a minute: I'm not necessarily talking about you, personally. I'm talking about those politicians and opinion-makers and anyone else who has taken the politically expedient (but morally indefensible) position of wanting to ban abortion except in those cases where the father is a bad man. Because if that's your position, then you're not really pro-life. You're just anti-sex.
(Not that I disagree with the anti-sex position: It has some merit on its own. What it is I can't stand is people lying about their real motivations.)
Liberals are Lying Too
Don't think I'm just on a conservative-bashing campaign: far from it. When it comes to lying about motivations, the liberals are just as guilty, if not more so.
The pro-choice camp (of which I am a reluctant member) also promulgates all sorts of dubious and dishonest purported reasons for their position, going on and on about "freedom of choice" and "women's empowerment" and so forth. A few people may actually believe all that, but I suspect most don't. Yet their reason for lying is the same as the pro-life reason: because the truth is too politically embarrassing.
Once again, it comes down to sex. Most liberals want abortion to be legal so as to encourage promiscuity and casual sex. There, I've said it. The reasons for this are manyfold, but include: They themselves want to have consequence-free sex; they think that a sex-soaked society is a happy society; and (few are aware of this, but it's actually a significant behind-the-scenes reason) more extra-marital sex hopefully leads to the disintegration of the nuclear family which is a necessary precursor to the glorious Marxist revolution (at least according to many communist philosophers).
Both the pro-life and pro-choice camps secretly agree that the real reason to ban or allow abortion is that doing so would decrease or increase the amount of sex going on. Where they disagree is whether or not more sex is a bad thing (the anti-abortion position) or a good thing (the pro-abortion position).
The Refreshing Honesty of Sharron Angle
Now that I've pissed everyone off, let's return to the subject of this essay: Sharron Angle, the Republican candidate for Senate in Nevada.
Angle is the only major politician in recent memory to not only unabashedly tell the truth about her motivations, but also to take a consistent and morally defensible position on the abortion debate. And although I disagree with her position, I deeply admire the fact that she is stating it honestly and openly. Because what I (and many Americans) want in a politician above all else is honesty -- and moral consistency. And even though I don't live in Nevada and so can't vote for Angle or Reid, I'd much rather vote for an honest and moral politician with whom I disagree than for a dishonest and amoral politician who tells me lies I want to hear.
I might take a different stance on Angle if I considered abortion a "litmus test" topic that exclusively determined my support for a politician; but in truth I place abortion way down on my list of priorities, and it is not really a salient crisis-issue in 21st century America. As things now stand, Roe v. Wade is the law of the land and is unlikely to change anytime soon. Furthermore, despite my being pro-choice, I actually don't really like the legal reasoning behind Roe v. Wade, and still think that states (and not the federal government) should have the right to determine what local standards are concerning abortion. I don't like an overreaching federal government stepping in and either banning or forcibly unbanning state abortion laws. If that means (as it would mean) a patchwork of abortion laws that vary state by state -- so be it. My feelings about states' rights inherent in the Constitution are much stronger than my feelings about the legality of a particular medical procedure. I'm one of those few people who know the difference between having an opinion and wanting my opinion forced on others against their will. Thus, I wouldn't particularly mind if Angle won the race and as Senator eventually voted to approve a Supreme Court nominee who later voted to overturn Roe v. Wade.
So, even though my pro-choice stance differs from that of Sharron Angle, my admiration for her honesty and moral clarity on the topic trumps my personal opinions about abortion. And that's why this pro-choice voter likes Sharron Angle even more after her controversial comments about impregnated rape victims carrying their babies to term.